Requesting Help Identifying this Brewing Equipment.

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
It’s probably been close to seven years since I’ve posted, maybe six since I’ve brewed. Looking to brew again soon, I updated my brewing equipment, I bought a few items from Craigslist. One item I bought is pictured below. It is completely stainless steel, except for the copper piping. I believe it it is a mash tun, but maybe it’s a brew kettle? An immersion chiller fits nice inside. It’s got me stumped, so if you guys could give me a clue as to what this item is, I would greatly appreciate it. In all, it weighs about 89 lbs., maybe more.

The guy I bought it from didn’t build it, and never used it. He bought it from another guy.

Pictures:
1st - Front
2nd - Interior
3rd - Interior w/ bottom plate removed
4th - Top w/lid and immersion chiller .
5th - Interior w/immersion chiller.

The bottom plate unscrews and opens to a 3 inch compartment/space between the bottom of the interior and the bottom of the exterior, which sits on the burner. I am sure this was put there so the heat from the burner doesn’t burn what it inside the container.
 

Attachments

  • B4362E6A-2E9B-4CC4-9DF4-EDCDDB8BC867.jpeg
    B4362E6A-2E9B-4CC4-9DF4-EDCDDB8BC867.jpeg
    1.6 MB · Views: 0
  • 6E54CFD0-FA64-4B8A-AA40-E758EEDF9B4E.jpeg
    6E54CFD0-FA64-4B8A-AA40-E758EEDF9B4E.jpeg
    1.3 MB · Views: 0
  • 31148377-07BD-4C3E-8A74-12D68B4B53D7.jpeg
    31148377-07BD-4C3E-8A74-12D68B4B53D7.jpeg
    1.3 MB · Views: 0
  • 430967A9-8092-4C07-86A6-FDFF01A536C4.jpeg
    430967A9-8092-4C07-86A6-FDFF01A536C4.jpeg
    1.8 MB · Views: 0
  • 7B401BB7-D62F-4046-A403-6B96E13BECA1.jpeg
    7B401BB7-D62F-4046-A403-6B96E13BECA1.jpeg
    1.7 MB · Views: 0
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
It looks like it's part of a bigger system. What else is included in the setup? Is it 2 or 3 vessel?

Too dark to take pictures of the other vessels now.

This item came with a stand with three burners. One of the burners is elevated. Also included are two keggles. One with a bazooka screen attached to a valve near the bottom and a blichmann thermometer located around a third of the way up the side. The other keggle has a valve at the bottom and a smaller thermometer located about a fourth of the way up. I thought the keggle with the blichmann might be a mash tun as well, because of the ideal mash temps indicators on the thermometer and the bazooka at the bottom.

Like I said, I’ll post pictures of the entire setup tomorrow.

Thanks for the reply.
 

wsmith1625

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
Messages
752
Reaction score
639
Location
Manchester, NJ
My guess would be a mash tun. The access panel at the bottom would help cleaning out the spent grain. However, the immersion chiller would likely be in a kettle. One keggle would be the HLT, the square vessel pictured would be a mash tun, and the second keggle would be your boil kettle. More pictures will definitely help.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
26,533
Reaction score
6,584
Location
Whitehouse Station
I'd agree that it's a mash tun, but I'm not so sure what that lower chamber is all about. It doesn't look fully sealed off from the top section because it looks like that false floor is only tack welded to the side walls. I guess the first thing I'd do is drop 5 gallons in there (with that cover plate screwed in) and see if it all leaks down into the lower chamber or not.

If it doesn't, I'd be a little concerned about heating with a flame because it would be a bomb?

Maybe the original builder filled the lower end with water to act as a double boiler to more gently heat the mash, but again, that can't be fully sealed for safety reasons.
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
My guess would be a mash tun. The access panel at the bottom would help cleaning out the spent grain. However, the immersion chiller would likely be in a kettle. One keggle would be the HLT, the square vessel pictured would be a mash tun, and the second keggle would be your boil kettle. More pictures will definitely help.

Mash tun was my guess. I figured the chiller might just be stored there, but then the hole in the lid at the back fits the chiller pipes perfectly. A hole in the lid would only hurt temp stability. Unless the “chiller” has a duel purpose. Like while mashing, hot water can be pumped through to raise mash temps when they start to dip, then removed and used as a chiller in the boil kettle at the end of the boil.

I forgot to mention the box has a whole in the front for a Johnson Controls A419. Also included in the setup is a pump.
 

Attachments

  • 9FB2A0EB-79A9-44C2-B0F7-78F81F08F1A9.jpeg
    9FB2A0EB-79A9-44C2-B0F7-78F81F08F1A9.jpeg
    30 KB · Views: 0
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
I'd agree that it's a mash tun, but I'm not so sure what that lower chamber is all about. It doesn't look fully sealed off from the top section because it looks like that false floor is only tack welded to the side walls. I guess the first thing I'd do is drop 5 gallons in there (with that cover plate screwed in) and see if it all leaks down into the lower chamber or not.

If it doesn't, I'd be a little concerned about heating with a flame because it would be a bomb?

Maybe the original builder filled the lower end with water to act as a double boiler to more gently heat the mash, but again, that can't be fully sealed for safety reasons.


I did put some water in and the water seeped between the plate and the bottom, however I didn’t know if the bolts weren’t tight and water seeped in. I will try again tomorrow, with the plate tightened and will check to see it it seeps in from the side and around the plate as well.

A bomb was my fear as well. Doesn’t take much steam to build a lot of pressure, and there is definitely no vent to allow steam to escape.

The person who made this did a remarkable job with welding the stainless. It really looks like they knew what they were doing, but I’m trying to figure out how to apply heat if needed, while doing it safely.
 

wsmith1625

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
Messages
752
Reaction score
639
Location
Manchester, NJ
Unless the “chiller” has a duel purpose. Like while mashing, hot water can be pumped through to raise mash temps when they start to dip, then removed and used as a chiller in the boil kettle at the end of the boil.
Your guess on the coil makes a lot of sense. Especially with a non-insulated mash tun. Does the coil fit in the keggle?
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
@wsmith1625 @Bobby_M

Additional pictures and video below.

Adding five gallons of water to the tank resulted in water filling the 3 inch chamber between the actual bottom and the false bottom (the part with the detachable plate.) The water didn’t seep around the sides of the false bottom, even though it appears to be tack welded, it must have been welded or sealed another way. Instead the water appeared to be going in one side of the copper piping at the bottom and displacing air, which bubbled out the other side. No bubbles appeared around the sides of the false bottom, only one side of the copper piping. I then drained the water and once all water was out of the top chamber, I unscrewed the plate to find the bottom chamber was full, but draining continued and the bottom chamber drained as well.

The good news is the chamber isn’t sealed, so no explosion. The plate at the bottom can be removed for making cleaning simpler. I can’t see having that much liquid separated from the grain during mashing as a benefit, so I’m wondering if the water collected in that chamber is to be circulated through the mash via pump. A small flame to the bottom would keep the temperature up.

As for the coil, it is too big for the keggle, so it’s likely not an immersion chiller, but a heater for the mash.


Pictures:
1st - Boil Kettle
2nd - Interior of Boil Kettle
3rd - HLT (possibly another mash tun)
4th - Closeup of Blichmann Thermometer
5th - Video of water bubbling.

Edited: details about bottom chamber
 

Attachments

  • 0D589095-EDC7-40F6-AD84-F20BE845CB82.jpeg
    0D589095-EDC7-40F6-AD84-F20BE845CB82.jpeg
    1.8 MB · Views: 0
  • 73502005-3ABD-46CF-AFEA-61E0AB4CCD7F.jpeg
    73502005-3ABD-46CF-AFEA-61E0AB4CCD7F.jpeg
    1.8 MB · Views: 0
  • A84BD390-B78C-4297-AC3C-04076342F604.jpeg
    A84BD390-B78C-4297-AC3C-04076342F604.jpeg
    1.9 MB · Views: 0
  • 71EABB0D-1E2F-465F-BCD3-1D0E0BAC2959.jpeg
    71EABB0D-1E2F-465F-BCD3-1D0E0BAC2959.jpeg
    1.2 MB · Views: 0
  • IMG_7413.MOV
    22.4 MB

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
26,533
Reaction score
6,584
Location
Whitehouse Station
It's strange stuff. I thought the plumbing would go directly to the drain valve. I honestly wouldn't know what to do with that vessel to use it as a mash tun. I could see a double boiler arrangement, but that would have the lower/side heating zone be completely isolated from the mash (and vented to the air). Maybe the original builder was a genius and it worked great somehow. Maybe it originally wasn't built for brewing but a found piece of gear that was oddly adapted to brewing.
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
Thanks for the clarification. I suppose it is possible, as I’m unsure if this item is complete, as originally designed. I have been doing quite a bit of research and have a few ideas as to the function of the bottom chamber.

One idea I have is the lower chamber might be something called a grant. A grant is used with a mash lauter tun. The first post in the link below has a pretty good explanation of its function.

Does nobody use a grant?
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
Having that chamber of liquid to recirculate would work well on a direct fired MLT, as it would be easy to heat and prevent scorching the grains.
 

Murph4231

Homebrew Advocate
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
847
Reaction score
1,380
Wow. I understand how it could have been created to function as a grant/mash tun. But it appears to me to be an experimental approach to creating a double task vessel to mash and grant with a single apparatus. I think cleaning it would be very labor intensive. The corners of the square vessel alone would make removing spent grains more difficult. Then the lower compartment has minimal access to get in there a do a thorough cleaning. However the concept is admirable. If it was round and the false bottom was removable it would be more feasible to me. It will be interesting to learn what you end up doing with it. Please keep us posted.
 

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
1,619
Reaction score
1,172
Are you sure item 1 in post# 10 is intended to be a boil kettle? If so, then was it with a electric element that may no longer be there inside?

Since the top view appears to be a double walled container, I wouldn't think it'd be doing much boiling if externally heated on a burner.
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
Wow. I understand how it could have been created to function as a grant/mash tun. But it appears to me to be an experimental approach to creating a double task vessel to mash and grant with a single apparatus. I think cleaning it would be very labor intensive. The corners of the square vessel alone would make removing spent grains more difficult. Then the lower compartment has minimal access to get in there a do a thorough cleaning. However the concept is admirable. If it was round and the false bottom was removable it would be more feasible to me. It will be interesting to learn what you end up doing with it. Please keep us posted.
Thanks for the reply.

It is intriguing me for sure. Since this was a Craigslist find, I asked the person who sold it to me to check if he still had the contact details for the person who sold it to him. He is checking.

Might get some answers soon. Fingers crossed.
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
Thanks for replying.

You are referring to the item that I believe to be a boil kettle. This item is a keggle. That is a standard sanke keg that has had it’s top cut off and modified with a ball valve. This one has a thermometer added too. Those are single walled.
 

OakIslandBrewery

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 19, 2011
Messages
337
Reaction score
412
Location
DePere, WI
Finding the actually intended purpose might forever be a mystery but it's interesting to see this fabricated piece of equipment and guess how it would be used. As stated before, as home brewers most of us are trying to come up with better ideas to make our hobby easier and maybe less expensive. To me that's the engineer is most of us, me included. I have a couple pieces of equipment I fabricated and use in my brewing process. Fun builds whether they work as intended or not.

Thanks for posting and interesting to see everyone's comments and ideas!
 

Murph4231

Homebrew Advocate
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
847
Reaction score
1,380
OakIslandBrewery your post make me think of brewing equipment myself and others have come up, modified and created to brew with in their beginning years of brewing. It would be interesting to see pictures and read the testimonials of some of our fellow homebrewers adaptations from their beginnings. We need a thread for that topic. I'm sure it would prove to be an interesting thread of entertaining creations.
 

Deadalus

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
1,591
Reaction score
1,688
I'd guess that the square vessel was something else previously and obtained on the cheap. The pegs at the top don't seem to serve any brewing purpose. A lid could be made to rest on the top without them unless there was some readily available piece that was somehow just a little short. I wonder if perhaps the little compartment was existing before being repurposed? Maybe something was in there originally, something mechanical or electrical. Probably an experimental MT. I agree with the thought that hot water was probably pumped through the coil. Maybe heat distribution was difficult at the bottom.
 

OakIslandBrewery

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 19, 2011
Messages
337
Reaction score
412
Location
DePere, WI
OakIslandBrewery your post make me think of brewing equipment myself and others have come up, modified and created to brew with in their beginning years of brewing. It would be interesting to see pictures and read the testimonials of some of our fellow homebrewers adaptations from their beginnings. We need a thread for that topic. I'm sure it would prove to be an interesting thread of entertaining creations.
That is a fantastic idea Murph4231!! I'll gather up some pictures - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I'm open to a suggested thread title but I'll look through the ones out there.

Thanks for the suggestion!! This should be fun!
 

Murph4231

Homebrew Advocate
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 19, 2021
Messages
847
Reaction score
1,380
Hopefully others will chime in with thread name ideas also. To add to your, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, maybe add ( In the beginning ). Come on brewers share your opinions and ideas. This thread may offer inspiration and entertainment for new and seasoned brewers alike.

On second thought I really like your name as it is.
 

OakIslandBrewery

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 19, 2011
Messages
337
Reaction score
412
Location
DePere, WI
To share a maybe inspirational story, my dad liked to build things. I know that rubbed off on me. Growing up we had a big garden and one of the ideas my dad dreamed up was a pull behind tine rake. This thing was massive with lots of rows of tines. Every time he tried pulling it with the tractor it would dig in so deep the tractor would get stuck. After several attempts to fix it, that thing ended up on the edge of the woods with other ideas that didn't work . . . but he had a collection of great ideas that did work.
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
Thanks for the replies!!! I appreciate the thoughts shared. Even though I am going to put forth my current best guess for the operation of this equipment, other thoughts and inputs continue to be welcome.

I haven’t been in touch with the original owner yet, but believe I do have an understanding this equipment.

First, no doubt it is a MT. A rather unorthodox design. I am reserving my opinion of the design, until I have had a chance to mash it. If the container had another origin/purpose prior to brewing, it is unknown.

Second, it’s for a RIMS system. (Hoses are currently missing for recirculation.) Wort will recirculate from the bottom chamber, which is direct fired. A small flame to the bottom can be used to maintain heat, but will not scorch the mash.

Third, water at mash temperature will circulate from the HLT through the copper coil and back to HLT. This will maintain steady heat in the mash that is closest to the walls of the MT. The interior of the mash will not need as much attention, as the temperature is stable. At mash out, the flame can be turned up. Again the mash will not be scorched, due to heat only being applied to the bottom chamber.
The temperature of the water circulating though the coil can also be be increased to assist at mash out.

Lastly the bottom chamber could function as a grant when lautering to the boil kettle.

That’s my current understanding of how this will work. I may be totally off and will need to rethink things. I may use it once and put it on the shelf, or wonder how I brewed without it. IDK.

Since I haven’t brewed in more than 5 years, I am going to stick with the cooler mash tun for a couple brews before I jump into this.

I agree that a thread showcasing other unique builds and apparatuses would be pretty interesting to see. Entertaining and informative. Lots of ideas could be shared and improved upon. Maybe one idea was a tweak away from success, but the original builder didn’t see it, but someone else looks at it and says, “change this or add this.” Just one little change can make all the difference. Then again, we could all say, “Yeah, what were you thinking?”
 

OakIslandBrewery

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 19, 2011
Messages
337
Reaction score
412
Location
DePere, WI
The possibilities are endless, but I think your thoughts on its intended purpose are spot on. My first thought has mashtun too. The grant idea throws me off a little but a search of old-time brewing equipment might shed some new light on it. It's definitely a neat piece even if it's never used.
 

oakbarn

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 23, 2011
Messages
1,942
Reaction score
417
Location
Bartonville
I am not sure about a MLT because it does does not have the false bottom but only sleaves. Of course I could be wrong as sleaves in a mash tun might work great.

We use a modified HERMS system where we use a Chillzilla Counterflow Chiller as the Hot water bath. The Wort circulates in the inner tube and the Hot Water in the outer tube. We are able to quickly control our mash.
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
I am not sure about a MLT because it does does not have the false bottom but only sleaves. Of course I could be wrong as sleaves in a mash tun might work great.

We use a modified HERMS system where we use a Chillzilla Counterflow Chiller as the Hot water bath. The Wort circulates in the inner tube and the Hot Water in the outer tube. We are able to quickly control our mash.
Your use of the chillzilla is a pretty cool idea. Do you use the same chiller at the end of your boil?
 

oakbarn

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 23, 2011
Messages
1,942
Reaction score
417
Location
Bartonville
No, but we could. We have two duda diesel plate chillers. One uses a Penguin Glycol chiller to keep iced water as the cooling media for the second plate chiller. We cool the wort first with just tap water while whirlpooling and use the iced water to get to pitch temp. We do two batches so we need a fair amount of cooling. We normally do a 20 gal batch (or more) and then at least a 10 for the Second Batch. Most of the time the second is at least 15 gallons. There are 5 of us so each gets each at least 5 gallons.

We use BruControl for the Process.
 
OP
OP
argyle

argyle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
279
Reaction score
29
Sounds like an impressive setup.
No, but we could. We have two duda diesel plate chillers. One uses a Penguin Glycol chiller to keep iced water as the cooling media for the second plate chiller. We cool the wort first with just tap water while whirlpooling and use the iced water to get to pitch temp. We do two batches so we need a fair amount of cooling. We normally do a 20 gal batch (or more) and then at least a 10 for the Second Batch. Most of the time the second is at least 15 gallons. There are 5 of us so each gets each at least 5 gallons.

We use BruControl for the Process.

That’s impressive.
 
Top